Joe Russo, co-director of INFINITY WAR, from this piece:
“I think all of this — Netflix, Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ this massive moment of disruption we’re in — is really a function of audiences craving new kinds of storytelling. I think we had a really nice run for 100 years of two-hour, two-dimensional storytelling, but I think over the next decade, decade-and-a-half, you’re going to see a radical shift in how stories are told.”
Wouldn’t it be interesting if this were true?
I mean, people are always testing these limits, on digital. People cutting up shows for Instagram (before IG introduced algo sorting that fucked up the timeline), people trying to make video for Snapchat, Weird YouTube instances like Poppy or, back in the day, iamamiwhoami.
We seem to now be entering a period of some further consolidation, though I hope to see more things like WeTransfer commissioning videos to play over downloads and the like. LOT 2046, mentioned above (again! I know!) released a “newspaper” with their last box, and, given their community-building on Twitch, I figure it’s only a matter of time before they start looking at storytelling in a broader sense.
I feel like the third dimension being alluded to in the above quote is time, not the 3D of VR or the deep layering of AR. INFINITY WAR is simply meaningless without the surround of a ten-year cone of events.
This isn’t INFINITY WAR I’m talking about again, though. This is about the suggestion that the broader audience is now trained for narrative continua, and a lot of people are going to try and do it now. But it cannot easily be done in the same way Marvel did it, and so consideration of the problem should lead to new approaches in storytelling.
“The advice would be to continue to look for new ways to tell stories, because I think the audience is open to it. There is traditionally a generational divide, but I think this new generation is going to advance storytelling in a way we haven’t seen in a long time because of the tech advancements in their lives and the way they are used to digesting content on YouTube and social media in much more compressed formats, more facile, fluid. And they like longterm emotional commitment, but there’s lots of ways to engender that that do not involve building out a universe.”
The obvious note on that last bit is that you can’t hothouse a cinematic universe. JUSTICE LEAGUE and THE MUMMY come to mind. Perhaps of interest is that both of these things have solutions. In DC’s case, these planned standalone takes on the DC properties that give up on a narrative continuum and just go “hey what if Martin Scorcese made a Joker movie” are a much more interesting proposition. In the case of THE MUMMY, the Dark Universe stuff is so early in its life that it can still angle off from the original construction into new territory.
The strange thing for me is, I was thinking about all this some weeks ago, and came up with a structure to actually (potentially) create a layered/shared universe from scratch. Which always makes me smile because it reminds me of that Philip K Dick speech HOW TO BUILD A UNIVERSE THAT DOESN’T FALL APART TWO DAYS LATER.
Also, let’s be clear: this is the co-director of one of the most successful commercial mainstream films of all time saying this.
(Yes, he also worked on COMMUNITY and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, but that’s… it’s still commercial mainstream. It’s not like he’s Guy Maddin or Shinya Tsukamoto here.)
(Now I want to see a full Guy Maddin cinematic universe)